Planning, a Strong Support Network and a Good Attitude: How This Working Parent Achieves Balance

Sponsored by Marsh McLennan

Margrit Patel

Photo courtesy of Marsh McLennan.

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Fairygodboss
May 29, 2024 at 2:40PM UTC

Margrit Patel, the process improvement lead at Marsh McLennan, tackles burdensome tech processes by driving agile work practices, increasing automation and reducing wasteful activities to improve the company's speed to market. She’s also a working mother, wife and much more.

“Balance to me means that I can live a life that allows me to put on my many hats,” she tells Fairygodboss. “Everyone has different hats. My hats say things like ‘daughter,’ ‘friend,’ ‘wife,’ ‘mom,’ ‘boss,’ ‘colleague,’ ‘traveler,’ and ‘Margrit.’ I don’t think that it’s feasible to wear each hat every day but, over the course of a week, I make sure that each hat has been worn and enjoyed at least a couple of times.”

At Marsh McLennan — the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people — Patel and her coworkers are empowered to be their multifaceted selves. This aligns with the company’s focus on inclusion and diversity, and has resulted in Marsh McLennan being rated a Best Company for Women in 2021 and a Best Finance Company for Women as determined by anonymous reviews left on Fairygodboss.

We caught up with Patel to talk more about what balance looks like in her life, as well as how she feels supported by her loved ones and company. Here’s what she had to say.

In what ways do you feel like you’ve achieved balance?

I actually don’t think that I have achieved balance, but it is something that I have been getting better at over the years. Weekends are now dedicated to myself, my family and my friends. I talk to my mom who lives overseas, I take the kids to a park, I meet up with friends, or I take some time to work in my garden. During the week, I have a demanding but fulfilling career that takes up most of my waking hours. Nonetheless, I still find quality time with the people I love. I chat with my husband at lunch, cook dinners with my daughter and play with my baby if I have a few minutes in between meetings. Those moments don’t require hours of my time every day; they just require 10 to 15 minutes that are dedicated, genuine and undistracted. 

Attaining work-life balance can’t be done solo. What people, resources and tools do you rely on to get it all done?

Three things are invaluable to my work-life balance: 

  1. For one, I manage complex programs and projects at work, and I usually plan everything in detail and prepare ahead of time; I think that this type of skill is instrumental to managing all the different parts of my life. An example of that would be my meal planning. On Saturdays, I start to think about the meals for the coming week, do all of the grocery shopping and prepare meals in advance, as well. This helps me minimize the work required during the week, and it allows me to spend more time with the family instead of chopping fruits and veggies.

  2. The second key to success is my support network. I have a wonderful husband who is a devoted, hands-on father and who truly owns his share of raising our kids. We live with his parents who watch our eight-month-old son while we both work from home. While it’s not always easy with three generations under one roof, I could not be more grateful for the support and love that they show us and our children every day. In addition to all this, I also work with an amazing manager and team. I am able to work flexible hours when needed, I get growth opportunities in my career and I am being encouraged to set boundaries to take care of my family and myself.

  3. The last piece to success is the right attitude. For example, I don’t view my household routine as onerous chores but rather as an opportunity to involve and have fun with my kids. Whether it’s the laundry, cooking or cleaning, you will often see my kids engaged and trying to help. The activities may end up taking longer or are not as perfect as I would like but done is better than perfect, and the kids learn from it and we get to spend time together — a win for everyone involved.

What resources or support has Marsh McLennan offered you during the crisis? 

Marsh McLennan has offered a wide variety of support to me and my fellow 78,000 colleagues during this crisis. 

When we were temporarily unable to work — to take care of loved ones or because we got sick — it was okay, and we were paid as usual. There was simply no counting of sick days or vacation days. In addition, some colleagues experienced tremendous personal financial hardship from this unprecedented crisis. Marsh McLennan established a $5 million fund to directly support those colleagues.

Lastly, our Technology teams did an amazing job at quickly enabling our systems and tools to allow remote working and online collaboration. We could not have transitioned so quickly to work-from-home without their support and expertise.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as you are navigating this ‘new normal’?

I am a social person and miss being around my friends and family — some of which live abroad and haven’t been able to visit in two years. We make do with video calls, but it certainly does not replace a face-to-face conversation. 

Are you a working parent? If so, what advice do you have for other women who are working remotely with their children at home?

I have a three-year-old daughter and an eight-month-old son. My daughter goes to daycare, but my son is at home. It is difficult to give advice as everyone has different circumstances; however, I can offer a reflection on what has been important for me as I transitioned to work from home with kids. 

First off, it is important for me to work in a professional environment. My office is probably the one place in my house where you will not find any play-dough or stickers. Second, I make sure that my background on Zoom calls is either blurred (a wonderful Zoom feature) or cleaned up so that it does not distract others. 

Last but not least, I remind myself that I cannot control everything in my life. There are days when everything falls into pieces and nothing goes right. On those days, I listen carefully and might just be able to hear my daughter singing “Let it go” in the distance, which is a wonderful reminder and a cue to try again tomorrow.

What is your favorite way to destress outside of work? 

I love being out in nature. It provides a perfect balance to being on the computer all day. We have a little garden with vegetables and fruits that my daughter and I tend to every day. I try to end my workday when she comes home from daycare. We often walk into the garden, talk about where our food comes from and how it takes care of our health. We pick ingredients that we need to make dinner and then cook together. It’s a completely different world that I emerge into, and that helps me keep an eye on what really matters in life.

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